PHOTO: Daniel Johnson
November 13, 2018

Corded or cordless?

I imagine at some point, just about every hobby farmer has asked this question about a power tool under consideration for purchase, whether it’s a drill, a circular saw or a jigsaw. It’s arguably the single most important question to ask—even more so than “Do I actually need this tool?”—because if you’re a hobby farmer, that question is irrelevant; of course you need it!

So the debate becomes whether to buy battery-powered tools you can use anywhere or corded models that must be tethered to an electrical outlet. You might be thinking, “Why would I purchase corded tools when battery-powered ones offer so much more freedom?” But it’s not quite that simple—there are many reasons why one might prefer corded power tools.

Let’s try to settle this debate (or at least help you reach a decision that’s right for you) by examining the advantages and disadvantages offered by each option.


Corded

Pros:

More power, unlimited run time and less weight are the main advantages offered by corded power tools. Being tethered to a reliable power source lets them utilize bigger, more powerful motors with more torque. This means that with the tools, you to handle tougher tasks—say, driving very long screws or cutting through thick, hard materials. It also means that the tools will not run out of power in the middle of a project—you can use them uninterrupted for as long as you want. Going without batteries means that the tools can be considerably lighter, which makes them easier and less fatiguing to handle over the course of long projects.

If you have a dedicated workshop where you primarily use your power tools, or if your projects tend to be large-scale with a need for superior power and prolonged use in one general area, corded power tools might be the best option for you.

Cons:

Really, the only con with corded power tools is that they have to be tethered to an electrical outlet, and while this can be an outlet on a portable generator (which lets you use the tools anywhere on your farm), hauling a generator around isn’t quite as simple or convenient as just grabbing a battery-powered tool. The cords can also be a tripping hazard.

Cordless

Pros:

They can go anywhere! Whether you’re at the far end of your farm fixing a fence or making minor repairs to an off-the-grid outbuilding, battery-powered tools offer tremendous convenience and portability. There’s something very appealing about being able to carry your tools wherever you need them without having to pull out a trailer to bring along a generator, and if you’re constantly on the go working on short, simple projects, battery-powered tools are probably the way to go.

electric drill drills
Daniel Johnson

Cons:

Of course, that portability comes with some drawbacks. Battery-powered tools tend to be heavier (thanks to their batteries) than similar corded models, and they might not offer as much power. Plus, you’ll probably want to have at least two batteries on hand, because it’s a nuisance to have your only battery run out while you’re working.

Of course, if you love tools and your budget allows, you could always buy corded and cordless models and have the best of both worlds.

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